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Anthony Roth Costanzo is remarkable in Boston Baroque's production of Monteverdi' 'Coronation of Poppea' / The Boston Musical Intelligencer

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A few days after experiencing Boston Baroque's riveting production of Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea (on Friday evening at Jordan Hall), and I am still reflecting on Poppea's world of 64 A.D., one in whose important characters are ethically compromised, amoral, and, despite their beautiful voices, generally unpleasant. And I am still smiling, remembering the beauty of all of this opera's voices, its fabulous costumes, and the astonishing countertenor, Anthony Roth Costanzo, who played Nero (Nerone). With this opera about jealousy, villains, lust and betrayal, soprano Amanda Forsythe, the beloved belle of Boston, whose costume, posture, makeup, and singing sent shivers through one's spine, played the sexually manipulative Poppea to perfection. Costanzo was, was great fun to watch-and to hear. His smile when he finally ended up, we presume, in romantic and sexual paradise with Poppea, was worth the price of the show. Here's a fellow who makes that age-old promise to marry his girlfriend and crown her empress as soon as he dumps his wife (empress Ottavia, sung gorgeously by Emily Marvosh)-and follows through on his promise. Boston Baroque under the musical direction of Martin Pearlman presented an outstanding entertainment in this last of Monteverdi's three extant operas. Everyone sang somewhere between very well and utterly fabulously. The small orchestra of strings and a continuo section with two harpsichordists (Martin Pearlman doubling as conductor and Peter Sykes on harpsichord) included the excellent players Michael Leopold, theorbo and guitar, and Motomi Igarashi on violine.

We are unquestionably living in a modern golden age of countertenors. Even so, Anthony Roth Costanzo stoldout. I hereby announce that I will never miss a Boston performance of his again. His voice is remarkable, and he can really act, dominating every scene in which he appears. A quote from a recent interview give some inkling of his feelings about opera. "Generally opera is dream time.There's a sort of vacuum where sound disappears and in between the notes, or when someone's singing very softly, there'a kind of intensity to the air quality that I can't find anywhere else. And that collective experience, that community as you engage with art is a very special thing that I don't think should be taken for granted."His voice is a tool to an end."Above all, I am an actor."This became abundantly clear in the quiet but exquisitely poignant duet between him and Poppea (Forsythe), "Pur ti miro" (I gaze at you) at the very alluring end.Poppea's coronation, and all that led up to it, is quite a delicious, if nasty, tale. 

READ THE FULL Boston Musical Intelligencer REVIEW